Moments That Matter
Understanding the experiences of women-veteran-business owners in Dallas–Fort Worth
Now more than ever, we know that small businesses play an enormous role in the American economy. They make up 99.9 percent of U.S. businesses and employ almost half of all private sector workers. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of small businesses was growing, although this growth was not felt by all business owners, nor at the same rate. Women-owned businesses, for example, grew twice as fast as all firms did between 2014 and 2019. However, research also shows that women-owned businesses are more likely to struggle than their male-owned counterparts. On the other hand, the number of veteran-owned businesses has declined, as has the rate of entrepreneurship among veterans. Veteran-owned businesses also generally perform worse than their non-veteran-owned counterparts.
At the intersection of these groups are women-veteran-owned businesses. Between 2007 and 2012 (the latest data available for both employer and non-employer firms), women-veteran-owned businesses grew from 4 percent to 15 percent of all veteran-owned businesses, an increase of nearly 300,000 new firms and far beyond the women’s share of the veteran population (9 percent)., While there is much to learn about women-veteran-owned businesses, research on this demographic is extremely limited and is often overshadowed by statistics on veteran-owned-businesses that predominately reflect male-veteran-owned firms.
Although data on the subject are hard to find, what little we have indicates that women-veteran-owned businesses often fare poorly compared with other businesses. This is hardly surprising given the difficulties faced by women- and veteran-owned businesses broadly. According to a 2017 analysis of U.S. census data by the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), women-veteran-owned non-employer firms made much less in receipts than their male counterparts. The same is true when it comes to employer firms. Nationwide, male-veteran-owned employer firms made on average $1.5 million more in revenue than women-veteran-owned employer firms in 2017. In Texas, this difference was nearly $2 million.
Before the global pandemic, the Dallas Fed’s interest in an inclusive regional economy led us to collaborate with the Veteran Women’s Enterprise Center to try to understand the specific issues faced by women-veteran entrepreneurs—a group already struggling to get by. Because these businesses were at a disadvantage prior to the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic, they are more vulnerable to the effects of the crisis and are, therefore, more in need of assistance today. With dollars flowing through several economic stabilization programs at the federal, state and local levels, perhaps some of those programs can serve as a lifeline for this group of entrepreneurs.
- Anna Crockett
Community Development analyst, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
- VR Small
CEO, Veteran Women’s Enterprise Center
The authors would like to thank the women-veteran-business owners who shared their experiences through the Moments That Matter Research Project survey and interviews. This work would not be possible without their participation and candidness.
Lastly, thank you to Magda Salazar for her valuable contribution to this report.
The information and views expressed in this report are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas or Federal Reserve System, nor do they constitute an endorsement of any organization or program.
Full report is available online: https://www.dallasfed.org/cd/moments.
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